First impressions of a frozen Montreal

It was bloody cold on my first night in Montreal, something like minus fifteen. It was almost 10pm as I wandered in circles looking for my hotel in the Latin quarter, still awake with pizza restaurants and jazz bars. The buildings were simple brick constructions with stairs leading up to second floor entrances, and down to basement front doors.

Day 1, adjusting to the temperature
Day 1, adjusting to the temperature

The streets, a simple criss-cross grid, were understandably empty; just a few stragglers were trudging around. I had accumulated a lot of extra belongings over the past few months, my great big backpackers bag spilling over into a smaller backpack, as well as an awkward plastic tube filled with rolled up paintings slung over my shoulder.

Graffiti, Latin quarter
Graffiti, Latin quarter

Every step was a sharp crunch. The night sky an eerie yellow haze. I loved the sound of walking on snow. Crack, crunch, crackle. Snow was piled unbelievably high in almighty drifts of one metre or more, flanking streets like stacks of fluffy sandbags, soft white pillows climbing staircases, thick carpets of snow suffocating parked cars in formless icy gluttony. Parked bicycles were buried up to the handlebars.

Good thing it has four wheel drive...
Good thing it has four wheel drive…
IMG_2999
Challenge: Spot the Volkswagen

Slivers of road and sidewalk were reworked as crude new trails, slimy with slushy brown mud and melted snow. Sidewalks were scattered with salt and gravel for grip. I realized that living in heavy snow is daily life for millions of people around the world, but this was new to me, and the absurdity that a city could be buried alive by a beautiful white powder, and carry on as usual made the whole scene all the more surreal.

This will have to wait till summer for retrieval
This will have to wait till summer for retrieval

Half an hour prior, I had exited the airport to catch the shuttle bus, and as I left the terminal I excitedly drew my first breath of dry, frozen air. I exhaled, a cloud as white as the snow that surrounded me. The bus had opaque snow-stained windows, icicles hanging from it’s bumpers, and blew great clouds of white exhaust as it cracked and roared down the street.

The hard working saviour of the streets
The hard working saviour of the streets

When I got off at Berri UQAM metro, only one other guy remained in the bus, and sensing my impending navigational confound, offered to help me with directions. before arriving here I’d heard the average Canadian described as super nice, super friendly, super polite. I had a preview of this niceness in my stopover in Casablanca. I was taking photos of the plane when a Canadian couple offered to take a picture for me, then asked in interest about my travels and where I was from. Back on the frozen streets of Montreal, I gained directions from a passer-by, and juggled my bags through the door into the hostel.

Everyday scenes seem a little more beautiful in white
Everyday scenes seem a little more beautiful in white

First impressions then? I love it. The frozen streets are beautiful in white, the people are friendly (and English speaking! Though French is the first language here), and the city feels like a small hometown. I feel it rubbing off on me, yesterday I helped a pair of guys push their buried car free from it’s frozen parking spot. I’ve barely scratched the surface here in Montreal and have a lot more to discover about this place, as the seasons change and I can see what lies beneath the snow. For the time being its just me, having left Europe early for visa reasons. Cindy is finishing up her work contract in France and coming very soon. Im very excited for her arrival, counting down the days!!

Freeing a parked car. After initially stopping to gawk, I ended up helping
Freeing a parked car. After initially stopping to gawk, I ended up helping
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8 thoughts on “First impressions of a frozen Montreal

  1. Sounds like a wonderful start to your adventures. Grew up in Montreal, don’t live there anymore, but I do recall some monster snowfalls back in the day. Have fun exploring the city. It’s a great place to be. I look forward to your future posts!
    Cheers,
    Ricky

  2. I’m glad you were able to come to Montreal and still find its sense of beauty even when it’s buried under all the snow. As a resident here I rather like it myself. …You know as long as it doesn’t get too cold.

    WELCOME to Montreal.

  3. Thanks for the update! I don’t usually comment but I’ve enjoyed keeping up to date on what you’ve been up to:) it’s stinking hot at home… In the 40’s and fire-y. Enjoy the cool of Canada (or more like frickin freezing?!)

    1. Hey crystal, thanks for the comment it’s nice to know the blog is still keeping everyone interested! I heard about the crazy heat wave back home, a big contrast to here. In February I’m getting back to the jungle for a month, with a side trip to Costa Rica! How’s little Lucy going?

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